In solidarity with the French people and all people

Looking for solutions to hatred

There’s little that can be said about the tragic terrorist attacks on November 13, 2015 which killed over 130 people — little which is not obvious or hasn’t already been said.

Over the long course of human history, these problems of strife will be solved through insight, tolerance, and love, but in the meantime we need to keep from killing each other.

In my own study of hate groups, I’ve been influenced by Matthew Johnson, who identifies some elements which hate groups have in common: They “otherize” and “dehumanize” those with whom they disagree, to the point where all human empathy has been suppressed and replaced with blind hatred. They create (and constantly reinforce) a narrative in which the Other is responsible for the loss of the group’s proper place in the world at some time in the past, persisting into the present.

On a core level, the solution to these problems is empathy and love, and how to unblock them. This is true irrespective of the different political or religious ideologies which may divide people.

I have heard of programs where Israeli and Palestinian children learn to play together, and so develop natural love and respect for each other’s humanity. Later in life, even in the face of political or religious conflicts, if they know each other’s core humanity, then they will not be able to engage in wanton killing. Where empathy is there, love is there, then love and empathy can find a solution. These children can grow up to be the leaders who find those solutions.

There are also programs where animals with a sweet, loving disposition are used to help people who are depressed or angry (but not yet violent) to develop greater empathy. I think the idea is that when you have a dog or cat who is showing you uncritical love, then it becomes easier to express uncritical love to other people.

In many Western nations, the current tendency is to banish religion from the public square on the grounds that it is too controversial or provides no real benefit. However, hidden within religion, or, let us say, spirituality, are the core truths which can enlighten us so that we are filled with love and compassion for others, and only wish to live in peace. Politics, science, and psychology alone cannot provide the answers. Spirituality is also needed.

As conflicts drag on for decades or even centuries, each side fiercely clutches its list of grievances. But through spiritual insight, people can learn to live in the present moment, and to experience deep and abiding peace. God Himself lives always in the present moment, and that is why He cannot bear a grudge against any of His children.

Each religion is like a house, and it is natural that each person should live inside his or her own house. But in the modern world, we need to expand our insight into the nature of a loving God — a God who loved His children so much that He appeared to each of them in the form that would be most pleasing to them. The God of the Abrahamic religions — of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity — is the same God. This is also the same God, or same Truth, found in the Indic religions, in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. We can each live in our own house, but it’s important that we stop fighting with our brothers and sisters, for this makes our Father weep.

There are many injustices in the world. If we feel them keenly, then let us dedicate our lives to eradicating them — not by killing people, but by gradually eliminating the root cause of injustice, which is ignorance. In wisdom, we discover oneness; and in oneness, we no longer find it necessary to fight with our neighbour. No political ideology, scientific discovery, or psychological treatment can take the place of this spiritual insight.

Michael Howard

Nana Mouskouri – Je Chante Avec Toi Liberté
(Song For Liberty)

When you sing I’m singing with you liberty
When you cry I cry with you in sorrow
When you suffer I’m praying for you liberty
For your struggles will bring us a new tomorrow

Days of sad darkness and fear must one day crumble
For the force of your kindness and love make them tremble
When you sing I’m singing with you liberty
In the void of your absence I keep searching for you

Who are you dream illusion or just reality
Faith ideal desire revolution
I believe you’re the symbol of our humanity
Lighting up the world for eternity

I can see why men die to defend you
Try to guard to protect and attend you
When you sing I’m singing with you liberty
With your tears or your joys I love you
Let us sing and rejoice make our own history
Songs of hope with one voice guide us to victory
Liberty, liberty

(Verdi / P. Delanoë / C. Lemesle / J. Johns)

See also: I Am Not Charlie: Peanuts Version